Pidgeon Pagonis is an intersex artist, activist and former communications & operations manager and youth leadership coordinator for interACT youth—the world’s first intersex youth project. Pidgeon has over ten years experience researching, advocating and educating a wide range of audiences about the intersex movement for bodily autonomy and justice. They’ve recently been published in the academic journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, and were awarded by the White House as an LGBT Champion of Change.
Based in Chicago, Pidgeon holds a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University. In 2014, Pidgeon created a documentary titled, The Son I Never Had, that explores the intricacies of what it’s like to grow up intersex. Their film sheds light on their individual intersex experience by weaving narration, recorded conversations, and medical records.
Pidgeon believes the human rights abuses performed by the Medical Industrial Complex, to reinforce the sex and gender binary, are the movement’s key roadblocks. In response, their current work—shared via presentations, workshops and social media—gives participants the tools needed to deconstruct those roadblocks.
With one foot planted in local organizing against Chicago’s police brutality, and the other in the intersex justice movement, Pidgeon is committed to fostering an intersex liberation movement that doesn’t succeed at the expense of other movements.
Over the past five years, Pidgeon has collaborated with an international network of intersex activists and has provided presentations, film screenings and testimony on intersex human rights throughout the world.
Last year, they launched the first global twitterstorm on Intersex Awareness Day marked by thousands of people connecting and sharing their #intersexstories. In May 2016, their photo series CMHK, and film, was included in Carlos Motta’s exhibition Beloved Martina… in Toronto.
Pidgeon has been featured in the documentary Intersexion, and on Buzzfeed, Al Jazeera, AP, HuffPo, CNN, & NBC Out. This fall, they’ll portray an intersex character, based on their life, on Amazon’s Transparent. To
Read their Everyday Feminism articles here.
Location: Chicago, IL
Book Pidgeon Now!
To arrange to have Pidgeon speak at your event, please complete this form here and we will be in touch soon. Their presentations include:
- Intersex is Beautiful: Binaries are Pitiful – Part intersex 101, part storytelling, and part film screening, this presentation explores what’s at the root of intersex oppression–fear of the unknown. For centuries, mythology, not actual intersex people’s stories, has shaped the public’s perception leading to dire consequences. Some of the key events and players in intersex history, whose groundbreaking activism in the early 90s helped lay the groundwork for today’s dynamic movement, are introduced to help participants understand why intersex activists across the globe—who were forced to conform—are uniting to demand that society conforms instead. Audiences will get a chance to think critically about the ways in which seemingly binary concepts such as sex and gender are actually diverse and mysterious.
- The Son I Never Had (30 min.), short documentary – The film ties together narration, conversations with family, and medical records to paint a portrait of how medicine’s current protocol rooted in binaries effected one intersex child and their family. Viewers leave with a tangible understanding of why the UN recently declared that intersex people’s treatment amounts to human rights violations.
- Something Else: Sex, Gender and Intersex — Geared towards middle school and high school students, this presentation’s goal is to illuminate how each and everyone of us is unique—or, something else. Concepts of biological sex, gender roles and intersex are broken down in age appropriate ways. Using elements of a children’s story book titled Something Else, students are asked to look at the ways in which we all experience feeling left out – whether it’s because of our biological sex, gender or other reasons. Students leave with the message that we all exist on a spectrum, and no one is located purely at one of the extreme ends of any binary—we’re all something else! And this should be celebrated, loved and enjoyed—not made fun of, isolated, surgically changed, etc.
All topics can be adapted to be presentations, keynote speeches, or workshops and can be tailored to the audience. If you don’t see a topic that quite meets your needs but think we can cover it, just let us know. We are also willing to create a signature talk or workshop for groups.
Past Presentations Include:
- Intersex & Intersectionality, Lavender Graduation Keynote Presentation, DePaul University, June 2016
- Intersex is Beautiful presentation & The Son I Never Had film screening, Center for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University, Montreal, May 2016
- Intersex Human Rights: Supporting A Growing Movement & Exploring Intersections with LGBTQ Justice, Funding Forward Conference, Minneapolis, April 2016.
- Making Art to Make a Change panel presentation, The White House, November 2015.
- Congressional Commission on Intersex Rights Presentation, Mexico City, May 2015.
- Commission on Intersex Human Rights Panel, Organization of American States, Washington D.C., April 2013.
What Others Have To Say About Pidgeon
“I loved Pidgeon’s presentation. They are authentic, relatable and engaging. Getting a room filled with 11th and 12th graders is no easy feat, but Pidgeon pulled it off with ease. I highly recommend Pidgeon to anyone looking to learn about being intersex, fitting-in and/or identity in general.”
– Janah Bocio LCSW, Social Worker, The Churchill School & Center in NYC
“Pidgeon Pagonis is a wonderful speaker weaving between critical theory, gender studies, queer theory and personal experiences to captivate audiences and prompt real debate. Pidgeon’s incredible generosity with the audience and prompts to collective discussion led to an important and memorable evening.”
– Georgina Jackson, Director of Exhibitions & Publications at Mercer Union a centre for contemporary art in Toronto
“Pidgeon gave an engaging presentation for part of Portland State University’s Pride Month. We really enjoyed that Pidgeon discussed intersex topics in really thoughtful and dynamic ways, especially through showing their unique and powerful documentary.”
– Grace Piper, student organizer, Portland State University, May 2016
“Pidgeon gave the keynote address at our annual Lavender Graduation and Stonewall Awards, an event honoring LGBTQA students. The keynote was a beautiful blend of Pidgeon’s lived experience with injustice as an intersex person and the importance of finding solidarity in a community of resistance.”
– Katy Weseman, LGBTQA Student Services Coordinator, DePaul University in Chicago